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International Women's Day Spotlight on Inspiring Females

Although we should celebrate women every day, International Women’s Day is a brilliant excuse to spotlight women across the world and raise awareness of women’s equality and promote gender parity.

Eat Work Art is home to a large network of female and non-binary entrepreneurs and we hope to continue celebrating their contribution to the wider community.

We took the opportunity to speak to some of the female leaders across our sites and shed light on their achievements in the face of extraordinary challenges. They spoke to us about how they’ve adapted and offer their advice to those making the leap this year.

Maz Smith, Owner of Esce-tex


"We’ve just launched Esce-tex™, a solutions based platform created to help shape a responsible and conscious industry. Smaller brands often face challenges in growing sustainably. For the industry to change - the change needs to be accessible to everyone. From sourcing to consultancy and communications, we here to help brands grow with people and the planet at heart."

What were the biggest challenges of this year?
Putting my energy into something I love and care about has been so rewarding and really changed my outlook on life. I’ve been really fortunate to take my assistant Phoebe on, working together with shared ideals and values has really reflected the way in which Esce-tex has grown already. I was on furlough for a short period of timeliest year and for a while was left feeling very overwhelmed and lost. Channelling my energy into Esce-tex and moving into our Studio has been a real dream becoming a reality moment.

What do you enjoy most about your job?
After working in the fashion industry for a few years, I realised it was only really big brands that had the power to do what they want and progress effectively. There was nobody to support the smaller guys. If we want the industry to become more sustainable change needs to be approached from all angles and not be elitist. Barriers within the industry, particularly with minimum order requirements, go far beyond the capacity of small-medium sized brands. So many people talk about the issues within the industry, the struggles it faces, the damage it does. We’ve spoken about it in countless blogs, podcasts, magazines highlighting this damage. But now it’s time the industry made fundamental change, so we really just want to be the solutions guys. We love how creative and beautiful the fashion industry can be, starting this journey, to fix what we love is why we are here.

Any advice for someone wanting to make a leap?
I’d always suggest doing it ‘consciously’, think about how you can bring positive change. The effect your leap has on people and the planet. Also read all angles of the argument. I found it helps you understand the opposing opinions and productively develop your approach/solutions.

Rehana Begum, Owner of Sew It With Love at Old Paradise Yard

Sew It With Love

"I am the Owner of a sewing studio called Sew it with Love. We offer small and friendly sewing courses and dressmaking classes as well as 1 to 1 tuition for different levels and abilities. I run the business, dealing with the day to day admin, student enquiries, development of new courses/patterns, preparing course material to managing the social media accounts!

I have a wonderful team of freelance teachers who support and contribute in teaching the classes. I still continue to teach as well as it keeps me connected with the students and better understand their needs."

What were the biggest challenges of this year?
After working with the founder of SIWL for the past 5-6 years as one of the freelance teachers, I took the somewhat mad opportunity to take over the business in the first lockdown. It’s been a rollercoaster of an experience, from learning all the business/technical/website/financial sides of this business to navigating how to manage the business during lockdown.

Even though it’s been a year of a lot of twists and turns, I’m super grateful to have this little sewing company, it’s taught me a lot already and I’m excited to keep learning and hopefully developing the business further so it stays relevant and continues to be successful.

What do you enjoy most about your job?
I am able to share the wonderful skill of sewing and dressmaking that I learnt from my mother with others. I think through the learning process of making, it raises the learner’s awareness around topics of consumption, fast fashion, being more sustainable and ethical and hopefully more appreciative of the skill, time and effort in the make process. I also love what I do because I am constantly meeting and teaching really interesting people, which is another kind of learning for me.

Anyone you look up-to?
My parents who came to the UK as immigrants and against many odd raised 5 strong girls. I am lucky to have a lot of inspiring females in my life from my mum and sisters to close girlfriends; all who work super hard, managing households, family, careers and relationships whilst remaining kind, compassionate and supportive.

Any advice for someone wanting to make a leap?
Don’t overthink it. Decide and make your choice and once you have, be confident with it and just do your best and keep trying.

Laura Southern, Founder of House of Lady Muck at Hackney Downs Studios (from 12th April!)


"I founded HOLM in 2017. We are a beauty + lifestyle destination. We originally started as a nail art studio and quickly secured a cult following of beauty goers. We are an inclusive brand with heart, that people trust.

We now have our own range of natural, vegan products as well as a beauty studio in Hackney. We are opening our first ever HOLM lifestyle concept store at Hackney Downs Studio in April."

How was the past year for you?
In a word. Sh*t. Our beauty location's have been closed for pretty much a year, I had no choice - I had to pivot the business. I made the decision to close our main nail bar in Central London which was a huge success and took the risk to open a smaller local one, in the middle of a pandemic. We now offer nails, brows and lashes at our HOLM in Mare Street Market. To generate revenue whilst the beauty services industry was closed, I developed a range of HOLM beauty + lifestyle products and launched them online in Nov 2020. This led us to wanting to open a HOLM lifestyle store, as our products have had such a strong start on our website.

Proudest moment of your career?
Launching the HOLM product range and people trusting us enough to buy it. The feedback has been amazing and I am incredibly proud of it. They smell sexy AF.

Anyone you look up-to?
My role model? I have been lucky to have met so many incredible people on my journey. I would say my sister Nik, who has always pushed me to be brave and take risks.

Any advice for someone wanting to make a leap?
YES. DO IT!! Be authentic, show your passion and never let go of self-belief. It will be scary, but let that fear drive you forward. No risk, no reward innit!

Lungi Mhlanga, Owner of Treats Club at Netil Market

Treats Club

"I run a dessert biz called Treats Club - we’re a donut led business loved for our incredible quality donuts and other delicious treats. We’re the only design-your-own-hot-donut bar in London."

How was the past year for you?
We’re so blessed to be busier than ever before during these crazy times, the last couple of months especially. We’ve evolved our business to include a really strong online offering delivering products across the country through the launch of our e-commerce business. No matter what is thrown at us we’re trying our hardest to adapt.

What do you enjoy most about your job?
I get to wake up everyday and create what I love. I’m geniunely passionate about dessert and what I do, It’s not a mistake that I’m doing this. It’s exactly where I’m supposed to be.

Proudest moment of your career?
Opening two locations in less than a year during a pandemic and somehow surviving the madness of it all.

Anyone you look up-to?
My mother. I don’t know a stronger, harder working, more resilient woman. She’s also the best human being I know, so she’s proved you can be successful and still a lovely person.

Any advice for someone wanting to make a leap?
For the women thinking of starting something: you’re going to find a lot of doors a bit harder for you to open and barriers a bit harder to break through. Don’t let that stop you. Fight for every second of recognition you know you deserve, never let imposter syndrome win. Oh and when they tell you no, IGNORE them every time.

Clare Robinson, Founder of Love Blooms at Hackney Downs Studios

Clare Love Blooms

"I am the founder and head florist of Love Blooms. We create beautiful flower arrangements and are known for our naturalistic style and love of texture and colour. We provide a range of services, flowering events and weddings across London and delivering dried flowers nationwide."

What were the biggest challenges of this year?
It has been a testing year for us as we were predominantly event florists so with all events cancelled and weddings postponed we had to pivot the business. We launched a dried flowers range which we deliver nationwide and we decided to open a flower store. This had never been on our radar before lockdown but with the success of our dried flower range and with everyone shopping in a more local way it felt like the right move for our brand. Now with the hope of a sense of normality resuming from 21st June we are very excited at the prospect of live events returning.

What do you enjoy most about your job?
I find nature so inspiring and I get to work with it everyday. I love the adrenalin of installing event flowers and the therapeutic calm of creating a bouquet. It is a wonderful job to have, I feel incredibly lucky.

Proudest moment of your career?
Starting Love Blooms was definitely the proudest moment of my career so far. Prior to this I worked in the fashion industry for 10 years so deciding to take that leap was a scary one but I worked really hard gaining experience with a small independent florist and then went on to set up Love Blooms. Highlights of my career have been working on some incredible press events including flowering the press launches of Ted Baker's cosmetic range and Marks and Spencer vegan food range.

Any advice for someone wanting to make a leap?
Short career courses are available with some incredibly talented florists and these will give you an understanding of basic floristry and you give you an opportunity to practice your skills. I can't express how valuable freelancing is in this industry to make lasting contacts and gain vital experience in learning about design, the mechanics behind design and how the industry works. Also practice lots to discover and develop your own style.

Shaunae and Natasha, Co-Founders of Brunswick East at Hackney Downs Studios

Brunswick East

"We run a bakery/cafe, with an emphasis on quality and sustainability. Brunswick East is an independent cafe with locations in Dalston and Hackney Downs Studios. Established in 2015, our goal was to bring the very best of Australian cafe culture to East London."

What were the biggest challenges of this year?

S: Pre covid, we were equal split between eat in and take away. We have had to change our business to take away only which was a huge shift. We developed our own app to accommodate online ordering for pick-up and delivery too!

N: Having had our Dalston cafe closed for the best part of 8 months in the past year has been very challenging. When COVID hit, our Hackney Downs Studio bakery was not even a year old. We've had to adapt and change which Shaunae and the bakehouse team have navigated like the brilliant humans they are, and we've had the support of our local community which has been tremendous.w

Proudest moment?
S: I am extremely proud of getting through covid. So many things are out of our control, so I believe we have been very lucky too! We quickly adapted our business to work during the pandemic.

N: Rather than a moment, having a business that you are proud of everyday for what you do and how you do it, having created it from nothing, is something I am really proud of.

Anyone you look up-to?
S:The great, late RGB. She was one of the only women in her class at law School, graduated first of her class, and still couldn't get a job afterwards. Her career is so inspiring. It reminds me that just because something is hard, doesn't mean you aren't on the right path. On the contrary, the most rewarding things will be hard!

N: Our mum. She had us super young and raised us as a single mother, often with very little. Her resilience as a woman and determination has always inspired me. Even with nothing she taught us how to dream, how to think without limitations. She installed a sense of worth in who we were as people from a very young age.

If you're looking for a space to take your business to the next stage, check out our available studios.

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